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Understanding Plot Time Frames

By Gary R. Hess. Category: Writing

Writing anything requires absolute awareness of time. Whether you are writing about the past, future, present, or any combination, you must be aware of when to use specific verb endings. Using the wrong verb tense will create confusion, so be sure to re-read your work and know what and where you are in terms of time.

To help you prepare your writing, you should create a plot time frame. Plot time frames are outlines of the time period a story takes place in. For example, if the story takes place during present time, the the story's time frame is "present." However, many stories written today are not using this traditional form of time and bounce around from one period to another.

When you are writing your story, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, it is important to keep in mind which time frame you are using.

Many writings, especially those of mystery, are expanded upon by the power of the pen and ability to create time frames which go from one period to another. Nonetheless, for the author to pull off such a stunt means much concentration is needed along with a great layout and a great sense of mind to be able to use their astounding imagination.

Here are the most common time frames:

  • Present =>
  • Present - Past - Present =>
  • Future - Past - Present =>

When using an abnormal time frame, ie: present to past to present, it is imperative to keep the tenses within the writing related to the period, otherwise the audience won't recognize when the event is occurring.

As an example, when you are writing events which already happened, use the past tense. This can be tricky when switching between different time sequences, such as when a character speaks about a dream he had.

Using an abnormal plot time frame can be a great asset to any writer. However, it can become quite confusing if proper precautions aren't put in place to remember which tense to use. If the writer follows all precautions and their layout, the story can be as magical as he or she wishes. Just remember, the power of the pen is only as powerful as the author's creativity.

To create your own, begin with a simple piece of paper and a pen. Start by drawing a line from one side of the paper to the other. You then begin by writing important events along the line and writing any important dates you need and where in the writing you are wanting to place it.

This should help you get a hold of time when you begin writing.